tv The Last Word MSNBC June 15, 2011 3:00am-4:00am EDT
time? can he show a purpose and agenda that comes crashing through today's dullful job figures, depressed housing market and delinquent democratic excitement. that's hardball for now. "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell starts right now. what happens if six people who are not going to be the republican nominee for president debate with a man who might be the republican nominee for president, and no one watches? >> the first chance to size up seven candidates. >> nothing happened last night. >> they wussed out. >> republican presidential candidates get the big chance to introduce themselves to 1% of the population. >> michele bachmann is the story of the debate. >> a one-term president. >> mitt romney still is the establishment candidate. >> this president has failed. he's failed. >> and newt gingrich, what was that all about?
>> pakistani. >> never apologize. it shows weakness. >> i have to go with this question. herman cain. >> herman cain. >> muslims. >> train on the tracks. >> the key moment for tim pawlenty. >> tim pawlenty backing off obamneycare. >> only two of these candidates has any chance of actually being on the republican ticket. >> she didn't get her history wrong. >> i hate these comparisons to sarah palin just because they both have a uterus. >> i filed today my paperwork. >> she's a real competitor and challenger to pawlenty. >> mitt romney is front-runner. >> winning by not stinking. >> soon one more will soon be on the race. >> what about john huntsman's announcement. >> i intend to announce i will run for the presidency. >> all the republicans think fixing the economy is easy. >> one positive policy idea that
any of those seven people put up that was new that would create jobs. >> no new jobs. >> he didn't create the recession. >> anti-jobs. anti-business. >> this president is a declinist. >> a big failing grade on it. >> don't waste your time. good evening from new york. one day after seven presidential candidates took to the debate stage in new hampshire, the pundit consensus, wrong as usual, is romney was the big winner of the night simply because he was not attacked for being a former liberal, as he could have been by all the other candidates on the stage. romney appeared today with the glow of a man who believes his own press. >> i did see the debate last night. >> yeah. >> and you were great. >> thank you. >> and nobody phased you. >> people were pretty respectful of one another. we aimed our barbs at the president.
>> all that really happened last night in the much ignored debate was that the republican candidates in typical republican discipline style focused their attacks on the incumbent democratic president and avoided attacking each other following the guidance for such debates. even former minnesota governor tim pawlenty, the last word's official pick to win the republican nomination refused to repeat the word obamneycare, which he just invented one day earlier to compare president's health care reform law with that passed by mitt romney as a governor. >> why is it not obamneycare standing with the governor right there? >> president obama is the person i quoted saying he looked to massachusetts for designing his program. he is the one who said it's ha blueprint and that he merged the two programs. using the term obamneycare was a reflection of the president's comments.
>> governor, you want to respond to that at all? >> no, just to say this. which is my guess is the president is going to eat those words and wish he hadn't put them out there. >> the two-hour debate ignored all the way through by 99% of america, including, of course, viewers of this show, if which i am eternally grateful, didn't have any real surprises as each candidate mostly tried not to offend in style or substance any of the relatively small number of new hampshire republicans who were actually watching. as usual, in such debates, the most interesting comments were also the most idiotic. herman cain and newt gingrich tried to outdo each other with expressions of discomfort about having muslims serve in their administrations that will never happen. >> i will not be comfortable because you have peaceful muslims and then you have militant muslims.
those that are trying to kill us. >> now, i just want to go out on a limb here. i am in favor of saying to people if you're not prepared to be loyal to the united states you will not serve in my administration, period. we did this in zealing with the nazis. we did it in dealing with the communists. both times we discovered there are genuinely bad people who would like to infiltrate our country. we need the guts to stand up and say no. >> and yes, congresswoman michele bachmann explain what had she was doing on the stage last night. >> i just want to make an announcement for you, john, on cnn tonight. i filed today my paperwork to seek the office of the presidency of the president of the united states today. and i'll have soon be making my formal announcement. i wanted you to be the first to know. >> joining me now msnbc contributor jonathan capehart
and former senior adviser to the mccain campaign and former bush white house communications director nicole wallace. thank you both for joining me tonight. now we'll join in a collective discussion of how tim pawlenty won the night big time. right? all right, here's the theory. here's the pawlenty wins theory. pawlenty wins everything, by the way. it's the theory of the show. >> i'm in. >> by process of elimination because there's something seriously wrong with every other republican candidate. pawlenty will end up the last man standing. so last night he did not say obamneycare. all the pundits are saying oh, he didn't do it. the pundits are waiting for this glorious moment they wanted to see of the fireworks. pawlenty knows he's introducing himself to republican voters for the first time, new hampshire voters for the first time. he's following the reagan rule. you don't fight with these guys on the stage. you fight with the democratic president.
>> but obamneycare was a fantastic, brilliant cluster bomb. it took out two big people. president obama and governor romney and on health care, which is the number one thing that the republican party can't stand. if you're going invent such a weapon on debut it on sunday television, why on earth would you not use it in a debate where you know it's going to happen. you're going to there and face the guy. face-to-face you're not going to use it? it looked wimpy. i'm sorry. >> nicole can explain why he didn't use it. but i will, and then she'll agree with me. >> he has a great theory of his own. he's holding back on you. >> here's why. he doesn't want to say voodoo economics. he wants -- coming in second is also okay for pawlenty. being on the vice presidential slot on the ticket with romney. he doesn't wasn't these uncomfortable phrases like president bush did when he was vice president, running for vice
presidential candidacy with ronald reagan where he called reagan's economics voodoo economics. he said obamneycare once. he won't have to say it again. rush limbaugh will say it again for him. >> his missed opportunity is pure brilliance in your view. >> genius. >> i love it. i'm sure they will, too. they concede it was a missed opportunity. they don't go so far as to say it was a gaffe. >> wait until they watch this show. >> this may make them really nervous. look, i don't think there's anything that any of them could do other than, you know, flash the audience -- we've had enough flashing, haven't we? but there's nothing any of them can do to knock themselves out or secure their place. i thought romney had a great night. to be caught on film today saying i'm going to back in the big airplane with the secret service was to me one of the
most unfortunate moments for a field that's starting to pick up steam. >> and jonathan, on a debate for voters that no one is going to remember anything said last night when they go to vote in new hampshire. it's just impossible. so i think the only thing they could possibly have done and the only thing someone like pawlenty could have done by pushing the obamneycare theme. do you want on night one to say i'm here to attack and shake your confidence in this guy romney who you so far like? >> well, it's all in the way you do it. you don't have to go after him with a sledge hammer and say, yeah, obamneycare. you can just say, look, yes. he could have given his explanation a lot better and simpler and more strongly than he did last night. he was all over the place in saying why he would not repeat it. >> and the problem, we were talking before the show. >> you're not allowed to talk before the show.
you save the gold for here. >> i wanted to be prepared. the problem is the debate wasn't unexpected or unanticipated on tuesday. the line of attack was introduced on sunday. so this was a sequencing that they could have waited a few days to roll out if they weren't comfortable doing it face-to-face. >> let's listen to my boy, tim pawlenty, talking tough. let's roll the tape. >> i'm for a fair and open trade, but i'm not for being stupid. i'm not for being a chunk. and we have individuals and organizations and countries around this world not following the rules when it comes to fair trade. we need a stronger president and somebody who will take on the issues. >> he's not in favor of being a chump. that's winner talk. >> unless you're asked why won't you use obamneycare. >> i've explained it. he'll take the vice presidentsy. >> we're in sync now. >> all right. now let's listen to romney trying to talk about the difference between romney care and obamneycare. >> governor romney, just
yesterday mr. pawlenty called it obamneycare. is that a fair comparison? >> let me say a couple things first. if i'm elected president, i will repeal obama care, just as michele said. i will also grant a waiver to all 50 states of obama care. there's similarities and there's big differences. obama care spends a trillion dollars. if it were perfect, and it's not perfect, it's terrible, we can't afford more federal spending. secondly, it raises $500 billion in taxes. we didn't raise taxes in massachusetts. third, it takes $500 billion out of medicare and funds obama care. we, of course, didn't do that. and finally ours was a state plan, a state solution, and if people don't like it in our state, they can change it. that's the nature of why states
are the right place for this type of responsibility. that's why i introduced a plan to repeal obama care and replace it with a state centered program. >> now nicole, many pundits made the mistake of thinking that was a successful handling of the question in which he never addressed the central cancer of the obama health care plan according to the republican vision of the world, which is the individual mandate romney enacted an individual mandate in massachusetts. that's the big similarity he can never escape. >> well, lawrence. here's the difference between our party and the democrats. we are very pragmatic. at the end of the day, mitt romney looks like he might be our best chance at defeating obama. so the republican party has a great tradition. we did it in 2008 with john mccain. i was proud to work for him. he had a position on comprehensive immigration reform that was very unpopular. this is romney's burden in the cycle.
it doesn't mean he won't emerge as a nominee. he's going to have to articulate that self-defense of the differences, the key differences between what he did and what obama did, every stop on every day of the campaign. >> and every day rush limbaugh will be prosecuting romney for romneycare. for saying it's manmade and no republican candidate had to do the work if rush is doing it every day for three days on the radio. >> sure. and that's great for your boy tim pawlenty. i also think if mitt romney -- >> everything i say is good for my boy tim pawlenty. >> are you and rush limbaugh working together? >> no. i'm pushing the theory as hard as i can. don't anybody mention that rush limbaugh also opposed john mccain for the nomination. that hurts my theory of rush
controlling the nomination. >> i think in that answer in that clip you just showed, mitt romney was very clear, decisive in the differences and similarities between obama care and romney care. remember that speech he gave? the power point presentation that went on forever? he should have just done that. as we go along the 17 months nicole just mentioned, that message will get more and more refined. let's talk conventional wisdom here. mitt romney, in pattern follows will be the nominee of the l republican party no matter what happens. >> i will take that night off when he secures the nomination. you can guest host and announce it. is any tea partyier going to accept that answer where he completely ignores the individual mandate, which is what the tea party is so opposed to? >> we'll see, ann coweller softened her animosity towards mitt romney. she says she kind of likes him. >> she's a pushover!
>> and rush limbaugh, just to clarify his position, he does believe any one of these candidates would be better than the president that we have in office. at the end of the day, they have their opinions. they have their favorites. but our party has a tradition of getting behind the nominee and making the best case they can. >> and rush got behind mccain. >> that went well. now author, nicole wallace and jonathan capehart of the "washington post" and msnbc, thank you both for joining me in the pawlenty i theory. >> thank you very much. >> thanks, lawrence. >> coming up, a showdown between a former policy adviser to president ronald reagan and me on the republican's favorite myth that tax cuts are the answer to everything. and later republican senator tom coburn managed to get more republicans to stand up to the most powerful man in republican politics.
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a economy and jobs have been polling as the top issue for all voters, republicans, democrats and independents for five straight months according to gallup. last night the republican presidential candidates laid out their ideas for lowering unemployment and improving the american economy. >> lower taxes, lower the capital gains tax rate to zero. spend taxes on repatriated profits, and then make them permanent. >> for manufacturers, we need to give a five-year window where we cut it to zero. >> it cuts taxes but it also cuts spending. we need to fix regulation. >> the idea as tim described, those are in the right wing house. >> the congress this year, this week ought to repail the dodd-frank bill. they ought to start creating jobs right now. >> there shouldn't be any government assistance to private enterprise.
>> obama care will kill 800,000 jobs. >> joining me now is bruce bartlett, senior policy analyst in the reagan white house and as deputy assistant secretary at treasury during the first bush administration. he's now a contributor for "the new york times." thanks for joining me, bruce. >> happy to be here. >> bruce, i really want to fight this out with you. i am going to argue strenously that cutting the capitol gains tax to zero is a very bad idea. in the interest of fairness, i'm going to let you go first, and go ahead. give me the republican case. >> well, i can't really give you the republican case i think because it's nonsensical. i think there's no reason whatsoever to believe that cutting capital gains tax or frankly cutting any tax will help the economy at this time because the nature of the
economy's problem is not amenable to tax cuts. >> all right. let's see if we can fight a little bit on the herman cain proposal about repatriated profits. he wants to create a tax holiday that we've done before for allowing international conglomerates to bring profits back to the united states tax free. then he wants to permanently allow them to do that. what do we have to fight about there? >> look, i think a case can be made to move towards what's called the territorial type system for tax incorporations. the idea of having one-shot tax amnesties is a terrible idea. companies will simply leave their profits in foreign countries forever, well, not forever. they'll leave them there until another amnesty comes along. it's a very bad idea to do this as a gimmicky way of raising temporary revenue. we ought to talk about this in
the context of fundamental reform and deal with the corporate sector at that time. >> all right, the steam is running out of our debate here, bruce. there's way too much agreement here. you're being far too reasonable. tim pawlenty, my pick for the republican nominee by process of elimination, he will be the last man standing in my view, but he does imagine a world of 5% economic growth here in the united states, and with that assu,ption, all the rest of his economic ideas turn on that assumption. how big a dream is that? >> it's a pretty big one. i think pawlenty has been working more to win the larry kudlow primary where you simply assert that magical growth will come about for no apparent reasons and solve all our problems. we could certainly get a year or two of 5% growth if we ever get a snap back from the current
economic recession, but sustained growth rates of 5% have not occurred in major industrialized countries in the post war era. so he's really promising something at least historically speaking impossible to deliver. and there's absolutely nothing in his plan, there's no analysis suggesting that his proposals will do anything to bring that about. >> bruce, have you watched a decline in -- to put it mildly -- in the actual underpinnings of republican economic arguments for candidates? do you feel that there used to be some stronger realities built into republican tax arguments? >> oh, i think so. at least up until 1996. the most important thing to understand that certain policies, such as the reagan tax cut in 1981, which i supported
and continue to support, were the right thing to do at that time under those economic circumstances. and republicans keep acting as if it's always 1980 with exactly those particular problems, and they refuse to acknowledge that anything has changed in the last 30 years. i think the basic problem with the economy today is a lack of aggregate demand. i just don't see any way of increasing that through the sorts of tax policies that these guys are talking about. >> bruce bartlett, a former policy analyst for ronald reagan, i have struggled and failed to find an area of disagreement with you tonight, bruce. thank you very, very much for joining me tonight, bruce. >> thank you. coming up, speaker john boehner regularly criticized overspending in washington. now an ethics watchdog group is calling him out for overspending in washington. but first, republican senator tom coburn today tried to end ethanol tax subsidies which puts him in grover
staff of senator chuck schumer back in if 1980s when senator schumer was still a member of the house of representatives. this is what new york's senior senator had to say today. >> those of us who have been friends of anthony weiner for a very long time feel his wrongful behavior is distressing. it's saddening. it's clear he needs professional help. that's what he sought. that's all i'm going to say about this subject. >> and congressman barney frank who has a better idea of what anthony weiner is going through than most members of congress had this to say. >> you know, went through 25 years ago a situation where i behaved inappropriately. i think given these circumstances where i was myself, engaged in activity i shouldn't have been. i dealt with it. i don't think it's appropriate for me to set myself up as the
judge of others. if this comes to a vote in the house, i'm a voting member of the house, i have a responsibility. but for me to step up and appoint myself a judge of other people based on my own past, i don't think it's appropriate. >> still ahead, senator tom coburn joins me after bravely standing up to the most powerful man in republican politics. uh, laugh lines? [ laughs ] not funny. act my age? -why? -why? -why? i love the sun. past sun goddess. every line has a story. [ female announcer ] we all age differently. now there's roc multi-correxion 4 zone moisturizer with roc®retinol and antioxidants. a lifetime of stress lines, sun damage,
in the spotlight tonight, good news for america and especially good news for american taxpayers. grover norquist's mind control over republican party tax policy and therefore american tax policy might not be so controlling after all. earlier today they held a vote on procedure voting that would end $6 billion in oil subsidies in the ethanol business. that would, of course, have the
effect of increasing the amount of taxes those companies pay. this proposal outraged governor norquist who has obtained signatures from most republicans on his taxpayer protection pledge. no never, ever raise taxes in any form by increasing rates or restricting deductions and tax breaks. team norquist alerted taxpayer protection pledge signers that voting for an amendment to repeal the ethanol tax credit would be considered a vils of their pledge. in effect, a vote for a $6 billion tax increase. despite norquist's warning, 31 senate republicans who have signed norquist's pledge voted against norquist and for repealing the ethanol tax credit.
34 republicans total voted for the bill which ultimately failed 40-59. that bill was introduced and bravely pushed today in the senate by senator tom coburn. joining me now, oklahoma republican senator and member of the senate finance committee tom coburn. thanks for joining us, senator. >> i'm glad to be with you. >> senator, i want to get to your important vote on the senate floor today, but first i want to talk to you about the controversy that's overwhelmed the house of representatives in congress. anthony weiner's problems. do you think he should resign? >> i don't think i should be commenting on somebody else's decision on that. >> do you think that it's wrong for other republicans to be calling for anthony weiner to resign who did not call for senator vitter to resign in his scandal involving prostituting or senator ensign to resign in the scandal that involved him? >> when somebody is committing
suicide, you ought to let them alone. most of those that you just mentioned did enough on their own to end their careers. >> and senator, on ensign before we get to the budget, the senate committee has quotes from you where you're appearing to negotiate the money to be paid to the hampton family that many of us read as in effect hush money to try to get them to go away quietly. senator ensign, as the audience knows had an affair with mrs. hampton. there was a compensation package that was eventually worked out. the original proposal, $8 million that you seemed to work out to $2.8 million. then it got worked down lower than that. is there anything about that you regret in your role in that? >> no, i regret -- first of all, that's not a full reading of the report. that case is being closed and i've been exonerated.
number two is my regret is i wasn't a better friend to ensign to keep him from making the mistake in the first place. >> given that you knew what you knew, did you counsel him to resign and to make the problem go away first of all by resigning? >> my conversations with john covered that and lots of other areas in which i gave him advice to do the right thing and the honest thing and the open thing. >> and i'll close with this senator and move on. >> did it include stepping up and resigning. >> he did. >> but only when the ethics committee closed in on him. >> i'm not going to hash back old news on john ensign. i gave him advice early on that he didn't take. i gave him advice in the middle of it he didn't take. he ultimately made the right
decision i based on his actions. >> i want to get to this vote you made on the senate floor today. and sometimes losing votes in the senate create a historical momentum. one of the biggest events that happened today is 34 republicans voted to basically eliminate the ethanol subsidies, which is to say eliminate the tax subsidies. that's a violation in grover norquist's view, that's a violation of a pledge many of you signed to never raise taxes in in way. and the elimination of this tax break would raise taxes on certain companies involved in that industry. but still remember senators went forward and voted for it. is this a break in the lock grover norquist has had in republican voting on tax issues? >> well, i think you all tend to overstate the influence of grover norquist. he certainly had some influence. our greater oath is to do what's
in the better interest of the country. i was pleased to see 34 republicans join with me and say we're going to eliminate all earmarks, just not the appropriation earmarks, but the tax earmark as well. the earmark history came from an amendment i offered on the bridge to nowhere. that started a battle. hopefully this will start a battle to end tax earmarks. >> i would love to discover i have overestimated grover norquist's power on taxation in the country. >> i think you're going to find that out. as we unfold to fix the problems of this country, you're going to find out that republicans are going to end up making the votes to compromise and solve the problems because the country has to have us. we have to abandon party and do the principle change, which is how do we build a compromise that solves the problems in front of our country? >> but grover norquist has said about you and to other senators that you lied his way into
office. those are his words because you're offering an amendment that would cloeds a corporate tax loophole and raise revenue on certain tax returns. he's obviously going to use that technique against other senators running for re-election. in the republican courtroom today, what was the talk about what grover norton would do? >> there wasn't any talk. he's not going to do anything. between now and the next year year as we go to solve this problem everybody knows there's going to have to be a compromise on some sort of revenue increases we make to major cuts. that's just fact. you can deny it. grover is old news. it doesn't matter what he says. it doesn't matter what he wants. he's old news. we're going to fix the country. some of that is going to be revenue increases. that's the only way to build a compromise and get it signed by the president. i understand that. the fact is most people won't
admit it. >> senator coburn, you have 40 votes on the floor, but because you brought it up in a procedurally unusual way, there were certain senators it seems to me in this roll call who voted the other way for procedural reasons, not because of the substance of your amendment. i won't bore with the audience with what i'm referring to here. you know what i mean. is it your sense that if this could come have come up in a clean way with no procedural argument with harry reid about how it was brought up, that more democrats would have joined you in this vote? >> i think there's no question we would have had 63 or 64. but it begs the question, to the senator that is supposed to be the body where you have the right to amend. we were shut out on the small business innovation bill. we were going to be shut out on this bill. so the reason we use closure to bring to the amendment, which is
well within the rule, rule 22 of the senate. you've been around here. you know the rules. well within reason. the reason we lost those is because the majority leader broke arms today. and they're scrambling to find out another way to vote this so they don't look so bad. you'll see this vote or a similar society to it come back to the senate in the next week or ten days so they have a cover vote so they can say, well, i voted against this, but i voted for this. >> senator, are you going to continue to bring up the amendment on other legislative vehicles where you think you can? >> i'm going to continue to bring up amendments that eliminate stupid policies by the federal government. and if i could bring up 100, i would bring them up. i've got 100 stupid examples. senator tom coburn, thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> you're welcome. >> coming up, the governor of new york is pushing the state
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in tonight's rewrite, four senators including one particularly brave republican rewrite their position on gay marriage. no, not united states senators, new york state senators. three democrats moved from no to yes on gay marriage. senator shirley huntley. senator carl kruger and joseph adabo jr. have left only one democratic senator in new york still in opposition to gay marriage, where he will surely remain. he is reuben diaz of the bronx, a penocostal preacher. with one republican also changing his position, the new york state senate is now only two votes away from having a majority ready to vote in favor of gay marriage.
those two votes will have to come from the republican side of the aisle. the hope that governor cuomo, who made same-sex marriage a personal and political priority can sway those two more republicans has increased dramatically since his meeting yesterday with republican senator james elessy when the senator informed the governor of his decision to change his position on gay marriage. speaking afterwards, the senator said according to "the new york times," that he had anguished over his earlier opposition and had apologized to gay rights advocates. for voting politically rather than in a way that in my heart and soul i felt i should have voted. what it really comes down to is one word. it's equality. it's a basic right of living in
america. all of the senators who changed their positions said they were persuaded by discussing the issue with their senate colleagues and post importantly, with their constituents. senator adabo who represents parts of queens said just two years ago most of the constituents who contacted his office were opposed to same-sex marriage. but this year he got 4,839 calls and letters to his office supporting gay marriage and only 1,176 calls and letters against gay marriage. if you were one of the 4,839, you now know that your voice was heard. and if you live in new york or any other state considering gay marriage and you have not told your representatives how you
feel about it, you are missing a chance to make your contribution to history. in new york, republican senators choosing to vote in favor of gay marriage is a particularly brave act. because the politically influential conservative party in new york strongly opposed same sex marriage and can easily activate very powerful opposition to republicans who vote for it. that is what governor cuomo had in mind when he publicly called on albany republicans to, quote, vote your conscious not your fears. that is exactly what republican senator james elessey has decided to do. >> i'm voting my heart and my conscious and for me the virtues now are if you live in america and you want to be treated equally, you have to extent
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in february the obama department of justice announced that it would no longer defend the defense of marriage act in ten pending court challenges. house speaker john boehner's office then signed a contract with an outside law firm for $500,000 to defend the federal law, which defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. today citizens for responsibility and ethics in washington filed a complaint against boehner claiming his office violated the anti-deficiency act, a law
designed to stop government officials from overspending. boehner's office replied this complaint is off base and stupid to the point that it creates the appearance of partisanship by crew. the speaker expects any costs to be recouped from the obama administration justice department, which should be defending the law in court. the anti-deficiency act has nothing to do with this situation as anyone with a basic grasp of the law knows. joining me now is melanie sloan. thanks for joining me tonight, melanie. the question the speaker raised that this seems to him like a partisan attack by your organization. which is not known for partisan attacks. >> just once i would like to hear a congressman say, you're right. you got me. i did it. >> this is not that time. >> this is not going to be that time. this is par for the course. no one every admits an ethics
violence, as i'm sure you know. this is a well founded complaint. we went through the law carefully. you can't take funds appropriate rated for one purpose and move them for another purpose. that's what the speaker is trying to do here. he's also claimed he's going to reprogram funds at some later date. the law doesn't allow for the later reprogramming. here it is. speaker boehner is talking about the fact that we're in fiscally difficult times and we have to reign in government spending. he's spending $500,000 we don't have. >> just so i think the audience is amazed there's any kind of law designed to prevent government overspending since government overspends every day wildly and creates the massive deficits, but as you pointed out, technically what it is, it's about using the money that's in the budget for what it's designed to be used for in the budget. they don't want to see games played where the money starts to move around and cross borders in the budget.
you seem to by saying that's what happened here. >> he's trying to take money appropriated for one purpose and spending it on another. the department of justice already said it doesn't plan to provide the money back to the house counsel's office. the house counsel's office, which is the office that's intended to represent the house of representatives in legal matters, it only had a budget of $1.45 million. that money is already spoken for for salaries and expenses. they don't have this $500,000, and they've been told the money is not coming out of their budget sochlt where is the money coming from? >> leaving money aside for a second. what about the legal basis for what boehner is doing. how much sense does it make when they've abandoned the sense of a federal law at the appeals level for the house of representatives to say we're going to send lawyers into this? >> well, it makes no sense.
in a time of scarce resources i have to make choices and decide what's really important. where should our money be spent? it's really questionable as to why the speaker would choose to defend a clearly unconstitutional law, and the fact is it looks political. only in an effort to try the gain votes with some conservative voters that he's doing it. >> melanie, you had what can be called success in the ensign affair. you're the one who brought the complaint about what john ensign was up to. he is since on the verge of expulsion, resigned and left the senate. you've had amazing successes. what are your hopes for this one? >> well, first the house never really handles ethics matters that well. the office of congressional ethics has a better track record. i'm hoping they will take a strong look and investigate. the best they can do is send it to the ethics committee. that's where ethics complaints go to die. >> melanie slo